Dear Annie: My husband and I are trying to raise our three children in a traditional, conservative environment, but my in-laws undermine our values. We recently went on a cruise with them, along with my husband’s brother and niece and her live-in boyfriend. At one point, my oldest daughter didn’t feel well, so I took her back to the cabin for a couple of hours. When we found the rest of the family, they were having a drinkfest right in front of our 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Not only that, but they were buying alcohol for the niece and her boyfriend, both of whom are under 21.
My husband was taking part, as well, which infuriated me. But I was even angrier with my mother-in-law, because I feel that women should be protectors of their children and grandchildren, instead of enablers.
My mother-in-law is well aware of the values we teach, but if I say anything, she says I’m judging her and being disrespectful.
We spent very little time with the family for the rest of the trip because they wanted to party and we wanted a more wholesome environment. How do we handle this type of situation when it comes up again? — Kids First
Dear Kids: Please understand that you cannot control what other people do, only how you respond. You also cannot control every environment, so use these situations as learning experiences. Talk to your kids calmly about what’s going on and how you feel about it. Your kids undoubtedly will encounter other such situations when you are not around, and the hope is that they will remember the good judgment and values you have taught them. And please stop blaming your mother-in-law. Your husband should have been the protector of his own children.
Dear Annie: My wife’s uncle had a laryngectomy a few years ago. He now breathes through the stoma in his throat and also discharges phlegm through it. He doesn’t cover the opening with mesh.
I hate to sound uncaring, but he constantly coughs into a tissue that he then lays on our countertops, dining room table or wherever else. This is not only unsanitary, but gross. When he leaves, we have to use antibacterial wipes on everything he touched.
If we were to say anything to him about this, he would be upset and probably not speak to us again. We are running out of excuses to avoid his visits and hope he reads your column and makes the connection. — Germ Concerned
Dear Germ: Someone who uses a tissue to expel anything should not leave it around, especially on a surface where food is served or where others have to dispose of it. This is simple courtesy. The next time your uncle visits, discreetly place a small wastebasket near him “for his convenience.”